A reader writes:

I can't deny that watching videos of people getting the shit kicked out of them gets my adrenaline rushing and makes me want to see more of the same. But if these Youtube beat downs are our society's stand-in for Homer we're living in serious cultural poverty. I realize (hope?) the author of the post you quoted had tongue grinding in cheek when he wrote, but just in case... The Iliad shows men in the quest for honor crushing, piercing and mangling each other's bodies, sure. But Homer weaves scenes of brutality in with descriptions of the idyllic farming and family lives that these men have left behind.

And while Achilles is probably the most hot-headed character to grace the pages of Western literature, describing that character was not a difficult achievement on Homer's part (as these videos make blatantly clear). The really moving parts of the Iliad are when the work appraises the brutal streak in man and asks the reader to digest its significance. The climax of the book isn't when Achilles kills Hector, it's when he gives the body of Hector back to Priam, the mourning father. Homer shows both the savagery of man and the his ability for empathy and understanding. These Youtube videos invariably end with one man standing contentedly over someone who's been seriously hurt and feeling smug. Cheap thrills, not Homer.

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